Blades need sharpening after 3 or 4 clips or sooner if they have had to cope with hogging, thick feathers or been used on dirty coats. Using blunt blades with a tight tension will cause extra strain on the motor and be very uncomfortable for the horse.
We get many calls about tensioning machines – if the tension is not correctly set, then the blades won’t clip properly and if tensioned too tightly will cause stress to the motor and additional heat to the blades. Each manufacturer has their own guidelines for correct tensioning, so it is worth reading the instructions, or contact the manufacturer or a clipper specialist to ask the question if you are not sure.
Whilst clipping, ensure blades are oiled every 10 minutes to keep the blades as lubricated and cool as possible. It is a myth that blades stay cool when clipping, metal against metal will undoubtedly generate heat, which is why it is essential to oil frequently.
Check the heat of blades regularly by putting the blades against your skin, you will soon know if they are too hot for your horse. Keep a spare set handy for changing over to if the blades do get hot or for using on the head area when you need totally cool blades.
Use a circuit breaker on any equipment that is plugged to the mains and check the clipping lead for any breaks or signs of wear and tear. A lead can be very easily replaced if it is damaged or if the connection to the hand piece is loose.
Other points to remember whilst clipping are:
DO NOT immerse clipper blades in any type of liquid to cool whilst still running.
Clip on a dry, non-slip surface with good lighting.
Don’t clip at feed or turnout times – choose a quiet time during the day so the horse is as relaxed as possible. Have a helper handy, it is very difficult to clip without one around!
Wear appropriate clothing – ie overalls (not fleece as the hair will cling!), sturdy footwear, and keep a cap on or tie hair back.
Tail bandage the top of the tail and plait mane over if there is a lot to keep out of the way.
Applying a spray coat gloss to the body hair before clipping, makes it easier to glide through the hair.
Use chalk for lines, and a piece of string or bootlace to get the right length either side, eg when doing a blanket or trace clip.
Keep an even pressure when clipping to avoid patchy marks and lines. If the blades appear to be struggling through the coat, re-check tension and/or change to a new set and see if this helps. Don’t force them through as you will end up with an upset and hard to clip horse.
If the machine suddenly stops, don’t panic, check the re-set button which will flick out automatically when the motor gets very hot. If it has come out, push back in with a matchstick or biro tip. If it pops out again, then contact your clipper specialist for further advice.
If you are dealing with a young or sensitive horse, don’t try to do it all in one session. Preparation and de-sensitisation is time well spent, practice during the summer months, and incorporate running the machine whilst grooming.
If you have never clipped before, watch and get help and advice from an experienced person.
In the event that the horse proves to be a liability to clip, contact your Veterinary Surgeon for further advice on sedation options.
After clipping - remove the blades from the machine and use a soft brush, to remove excess hair from the blades and machine. Blade wash is excellent for getting out all of those tiny hairs from those hard to reach places. Remove the air vent (if the machine has one), and brush out using a separate brush to the one used for the blades (as this will have oil on).
Store the clippers in a dry environment, not in a damp tack room as this can cause the capacitor to deteriorate very quickly. At the end of winter get your clippers serviced so they are ready for next year.